Kitty Valentine Dates a Billionaire
Spin the wheel. Date the guy. Write the story. Fall in love?
Six years ago, Kitty Valentine took the book world by storm when her sweet debut romance hit number one on the Best Sellers List, which was followed by a string of successful releases.
Her latest novel, however, totally bombs, causing her editor to suggest she write much sexier books.
To Kitty, writing smut is the literary equivalent of stripping.
But with no advance coming in and her royalties dipping to an all-time low, Kitty has no choice.
Armed with a hot-guy spinning prize wheel, made by her best friend, listing all the different types of men she will date and then write about, Kitty will be spinning—not stripping—her way back onto the best-sellers list.
And in the process, she just might write her own happily ever after.
This humorous chick lit series (imagine an awkward Carrie Bradshaw navigating the NYC dating scene) is now complete and ready for binge-reading!
Release date: April 23, 2020
Publisher: Swoonworthy Books
Print pages: 226
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Kitty Valentine Dates a Billionaire
The thing about being a best-selling romance author is how everybody thinks your life is nothing but one big romcom. Or a nasty, filthy erotic story.
My life is neither of those things. Why? Because I’m a best-selling author—obviously—and therefore, I have no time for anything but writing. It’s sort of an ugly cycle.
Don’t start feeling sorry for me anytime soon though. I do make an attempt every so often to venture from my Upper West Side apartment and pretend to be an actual human being. You’ll see us sometimes—the writers who occasionally venture from their caves, squinting up at the sun like they’ve never seen it before and asking a random passerby what year it is.
Like at this very moment, as I line my blue eyes and apply a little mascara in preparation for a rare daytime excursion. I then pull my long brown hair into a sleek bun at the nape of my neck. Nothing fancy. This isn’t a date or a release party or anything like that.
When was the last time I put on makeup and did anything with my hair? Last Thursday maybe? No, Wednesday—when I met up with my best friend, Hayley, for drinks. Before that? It’s a mystery wrapped up in a pair of yoga pants.
Once again, don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t need an internet fundraiser set up in my name—besides, you can’t create a fundraiser to get somebody a life. And I’m not deliberately a recluse. I’m fine when it comes to self-confidence, and I do enjoy the feeling of sunshine on my skin every once in a while.
But writing, especially one or two books a year, means a lot of time spent with my butt in my chair and my fingers on the keyboard.
Life as Kitty Valentine is an interesting balancing act between living up to my last name—honestly, with a name like Valentine, what else was I supposed to do with my life?—and living like a normal human person. Today, I’m doing regular human things because it’s time for me and my agent to meet up with my editor in her office.
This is an important day, which means I’m breaking out a new dress I purchased on a late-night shopping binge. A girl’s gotta do something with her evenings. By the time I lift my head from behind my laptop screen, it’s too late to visit a store. They tend to close at reasonable times. The navy-blue sheath fits me like a glove, just like the slingback pumps I bought during the same shopping session.
My latest book, Candy-Coated Love, released recently. It’s a heartwarming story about a couple who meet in their apartment building when his golden retriever jumps on her. I always meet with my team to celebrate hitting the New York Times Best Sellers list. My agent, Lois, gets an advance copy of the list, and while she could easily email it to me, she likes to maintain our special tradition.
Though she hardly looks like she’s in a special sort of mood when she meets me in the publisher’s lobby after a brief cab ride.
Everything okay?” I ask with a smile, which she doesn’t return.
Granted, she’s had enough work done on her seventy-year-old face to make smiling a difficulty, but I don’t even get the permanent smirk her mouth seems to have settled into. More like a scowl.
“How’s the next book coming?” she replies.
Yeah, that’s the Lois I know and wish I could love. This is pretty much the extent of our relationship. I write; she sells. There are no flowers or rainbows.
But that’s okay. I get enough flowers and rainbows in the books I write. Besides, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the publishing industry. I know how lucky I am to have her in my corner.
My editor isn’t in there when her assistant escorts us to her office, so we have to wait. And wait.
And then, just to keep things interesting … we wait.
I’m starting to get nervous. That nervous energy propels me out of my cushioned chair positioned in front of Maggie’s desk. There are fantastic views of the city from this high up, and I decide to take a look out there. As I progress across the room, the framed articles hanging on the wall catch my attention.
Because they’re about me. Wouldn’t you be distracted by articles written about you?
Phenom writer hits number one NYT Best Sellers list with debut novel, Sweet Love. The wholesome romance about falling in love over coffee and puppies flies off bookshelves …
Still in college when she wrote the story that was originally Harry Potter fan fiction …
Kitty Valentine is the hottest name in romance …
There are other articles, tons of them, charting a stellar career. Four of my books debuted at number one on the list. What can I say? I’m blessed, not only with good ideas and the ability to write them down, but also with an editor and agent capable of putting my work out into the world in a big way.
Maggie rushes into the office, making me jump in surprise as her heels click against the floor. My smile is wide, my arms lifting for a hug by the time she reaches me. This is our usual routine. Smiles, hugs, congratulations all around.
Routine doesn’t seem to be what Maggie’s in the mood for today. She rushes right past me with barely a glance and sits behind her desk. “Take a seat,” she invites, gesturing to the chair I just left.
Oh. This is new. Why are my knees knocking a little as I sit down? It’s just that, book after book, we’ve done the same thing. Heck, she didn’t even bring in any champagne. A cheap bottle of wine would’ve been acceptable. I’m not a snob.
“Ladies, we have a problem,” she says, looking from Lois to me and staying there.
“What?” I ask with my heart in my throat.
“You didn’t hit the list this week. The book is a bomb.”
Maggie has always been good at getting to the heart of the matter with little fanfare, but her abruptness is still a shocker.
“It didn’t? It is?” Look at me, the fancy writer, knowing so many words.
She shrugs her thin shoulders. “Sweet romance isn’t selling anymore. You’re going to have to write something on-trend.”
I look to Lois, whose very stiff face hasn’t loosened up any. “Do you have any idea what that means, agent of mine?” I whisper.
Maggie doesn’t give her the chance to explain, jumping in to do it herself. “The current tropes that are selling the best, I mean. The trends. You can’t tell me you don’t keep up with what the rest of the industry is doing.”
I could just about melt into my chair, and my face is about as red as my lipstick. I can feel it burning, like eggs-cooking-on-the-sidewalk levels of heat. “I don’t exactly have a lot of extra time on my hands with the pace I have to keep up,” I point out, but even to my ears, it sounds like a lame excuse.
She lets it go, charitable for the first time since she came in. “Her Stepbrother’s Baby. Balls Deep. His Wolf Highness. Those are a few titles that are selling well right now. MC clubs are still hot too.”
Those are the titles? “What’s an MC club?”
She blinks hard. “Motorcycle club. How men with tattoos who live filthy, dangerous lives, love fiercely, and are finally tamed by the only women strong enough to take them on.” Her eyes have a strange light that matches the tone of her voice. Is it excitement? “If that doesn’t turn you on, what about bears or beasts that transform into humans?”
It’s my turn to blink. “Like, sex with a hippogriff?”
“Everything isn’t Harry Potter fanfic, Kitty,” she sighs, making me blush again. “Shifters. Breeders.”
“Breeders?” Do I even want to know?
“When a woman is forced to have someone’s baby.”
What an education today is turning out to be.
“And women like this?” I ask, scrunching up my face.
Somewhere along the way, the romance world I know and love has turned into something I hardly recognize. I wouldn’t be able to put the books Maggie’s describing on the same shelf as the novels my mom used to read, the books that got me into romance in the first place. My books would be scandalized. I’d have to turn them around, so the covers didn’t face each other.
“Kitty,” Maggie says, “a single kiss isn’t doing it for romance readers anymore. In your last book, the heroine didn’t even give the guy head. No anal. Not even a well-placed thumb.”
“I think that’s off-limits for most self-respecting women,” I reply. “Butt stuff, I mean.”
“No sex toys either,” she adds.
“Furry handcuffs, once!”
She rolls her eyes. “Come on. It was in a flashback scene from a seventh-grade Halloween party and didn’t involve sex in any way. You know what readers want? For the hero to cuff the heroine to the bed and screw the living shit out of her.”
“Maggie!” I gasp.
She’s never spoken this way to me before.
“That’s how it is.” She shrugs, leaning back in her leather chair. “Women want to be treated like dirty whores in the bedroom. They love foul-mouthed, alpha males. You write sweet betas.”
“Uh, the real meaning of beta is …” I begin.
It doesn’t matter. She bolts up from her chair, pacing in front of the window. Her heels click smartly again, her rapid pace keeping time with the beat of my heart.
“When’s the last time you got laid?”
“I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“That long, huh?”
It’s like I’ve stepped into a bizarro world. Since when do we get so personal? “What’s that got to do with it?” I insist, folding my arms.
“Your characters, when they finally do it, are in the missionary position. Always. In fact, your books are like the missionary position. They get the job done, but that’s about it.” She pulls a single printout from a folder on her desk and drops it into my lap. “See for yourself. The sales figures for your latest book. Unlike the women you write, they suck.”
“I write missionary position because the man is on top and in control,” I point out. Okay, so it’s lame, but I have to redeem myself somehow.
Lois is no help. When I look over at her, hoping she’ll back me up, I find she’s nodded off.
Maggie shakes her head at me. “Women want hot, messy sex. Dirty sex with a foul-mouthed, hot-as-hell, take-what-he-wants guy who’ll leave them breathless. And he needs to have some kind of secret past only the heroine can heal him from.”
“With her vagina?” I ask, raising a skeptical eyebrow.
“Exactly.” She smiles, like I was asking a serious question.
“Don’t women want to be treated with respect?” I can’t help but ask. “Wouldn’t she do better to get him into counseling? I can’t write books where women are treated poorly.”
“How is being given a good fucking being treated poorly?” she challenges, perching on the edge of her desk and staring straight at me.
I have no response to this, and she can tell. I know it because the look on her face turns to one of smug triumph.
“Listen, sweetheart, it’s up to you. You can stick to your morals and write the sweet, bland love stories you write now—which you’ll have to self-publish—or you can write something hot, which we’ll publish.”
She leans in, eyes narrowing. “We can’t buy the novel you’re currently working on. We can’t afford to. I’m sorry, kiddo. I wish this were better news. But that’s the state of the business nowadays. Write to please yourself, or write to the market. It’s your choice.”
My choice. It’s like being asked if I’d rather die via firing squad or hanging. It isn’t really a choice at all.
If I plan on making an income and continuing to write, which is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do with my life, I’d better start learning how to be dirty—or at least, to write characters capable of doing very dirty things.
Even if I can’t imagine doing any of them myself.
She keeps talking, but I can barely hear any of it over the pounding of my heart and the sinking of my stomach.
So much for being the hottest name in romance.
My editor was very clear. No more sappy love stories.
So, I do what any self-respecting author would do in the face of sacrificing their morals and integrity for the sake of maintaining a career: I go to the liquor store. After all, there’s no way I’m going to be able to write the sort of things she described while sober. I can hardly even think about it without blushing.
I’ve heard the saying, Write drunk, edit sober, before and never understood the reasoning behind it until now. Indeed, today has been an education.
By the time I get home to my walk-up, I’m struggling to make it up the stairs with a grocery sack full of booze. Anybody who saw me would probably imagine I was having a party—and if they knew the truth, they’d probably wonder how to stage an intervention.
Suddenly, as I’m a few stairs away from my floor, a golden retriever comes barreling down the hall in my direction.
“Phoebe, don’t jump,” a deep, rich voice chides. A voice belonging to the drop-dead gorgeous man who shares the floor with me, his apartment sitting across from mine.
Okay, so maybe I took ideas from my own real life and used them for my last bomb of a book. Right down to the breed of dog involved. A girl can only be so imaginative.
Which is a shame because I’m going to have to start using my imagination in ways I never thought possible.
A six-foot-plus mountain of lean muscle comes trotting down the hall after the dog, a perfect smile lighting up his face. My beautiful neighbor, a guy handsome enough to make me a little sweaty at the very sight of him.
Is it crazy that in the year we’ve lived across the hall from each other, we’ve never spoken outside a passing hello? Considering how perfect he is—like a fairy-tale prince, right down to the adorable, playful dog—maybe I need to get my head examined.
He’s gentle when he pulls the dog away from me. “Sit,” he orders.
When she does, gazing up at him with huge dark brown eyes that practically scream adoration, he pats her on the head. I have to bite my tongue to keep from asking if there’s anything I can do to get a pat on the head like that. A girl can dream, right? That doesn’t mean she has to make a fool of herself.
“Thanks.” I manage to laugh a little, feeling breathless in the light of that smile of his.
Boy, it’s not even fair for a man to be this handsome.
His dark eyes look me up and down, and he must like what he sees since his smile widens.
He then notices the bag just about spilling out from under my arm. “You need some help with that?” he asks before taking it from me.
Wow, this is going well. It’s one of those perfect meet-cutes, right?
Except for the general disarray in my apartment. I’ve been working hard on that little book my editor won’t buy, which means pretty much everything else in the world has fallen by the wayside. Including picking up my dirty laundry from the general vicinity of the hamper and tossing out empty takeout containers.
Mom always said sloppiness would be the death of me. I doubt she had this exact situation in mind though.
Also, a bag bulging with liquor bottles isn’t usually a standard meet-cute accessory.
“You know what? I think I’m okay.” Once I have the front door unlocked, I spin in place and take the bag back. “But thank you.”
He takes this mini rejection well, turning his attention to the contents of the bag. There go my cheeks, flushing hotter than ever.
“Having a party?” he asks, still good-natured.
“Sure am. A party of one.” I somehow manage to smile in the face of my disappointment.
He doesn’t need to know the sordid details of my depressing life. Though I guess when a person buys this much liquor all at once and admits they’re the only one drinking it, the message comes through.
“Well, I’m Matt. It’s a shame it took this long for us to introduce ourselves.” He thrusts out his hand for a shake. “But I’m glad we finally had the chance.”
“Me too. And I’m Kitty.” It’s not easy to keep from giggling when those eyes of his are locked on mine, and my hand is in his much larger, much stronger one.
He’s going to have a truly wonderful idea of me once this is all over, isn’t he? It’ll be another year before he dares to talk to me again.
Again, he eyes the liquor. “You can’t drink that all alone, you know.”
“No. You’ll die. And in a few days, you’ll start to stink. And I’ll have to go in with the police to identify your body, and is that how you want me to remember you? In your bed?”
Gulp. Yes, in fact, I would like him to remember me in bed. Preferably above me with the muscles of his shoulders flexing and bunching as he holds himself up. Or when he reaches down to stroke my cheek, to kiss me for the thousandth time.
“Naked?” I blurt out.
His eyes go wide. “Pardon?”
“Would I be naked in this scenario?”
“Uh, I think the bigger problem here is you being dead. Naked or otherwise.”
“I’ll have to remember to keep my clothes on then.”
He’s smiling again, though maybe it’s because he feels sorry for me and wonders if it’s safe for me to live alone.
“Or you could not drink too much at once. Seriously, I’d hate to have to identify your body, no matter how much you’ve got on.”
I can’t decide if he’s making fun of me, flirting with me, being neighborly, or feeling legitimately concerned that I might be the sort of person who’d drink all this alcohol at once.
“Thanks. I won’t,” I mutter, reaching behind me to turn the knob and backing up just far enough to get into the apartment so he won’t see anything that might embarrass me. I’ve embarrassed myself enough. “See ya.”
I then lean against the closed door with a sigh. I’m such an idiot. He was bound to find out sometime.
That’s enough of that for today anyway. I have much bigger fish to fry than the matter of the hottie from across the hall. Such as how I’m supposed to write a really filthy, on-trend romance.
Which means taking the liquor to the kitchen and deciding who to start the party with. “Will it be you, Mr. Jack Daniel’s?” I ask, tapping the top of the bottle with my nails. “Or you, Mr. Stoli? Ooh, Mr. Patrón. We haven’t gotten together in far too long.”
Tequila it is.
After a single shot, I get the heck out of my fancy work clothes and into my regular work clothes—a T-shirt, plaid pajama pants, and fuzzy slippers. After a second shot, I’m feeling slightly better about this business of dirty-writing. It can’t be that hard, can it? I’ve written best-sellers, for Pete’s sake. I can do this.
So, I go to my office, which would be the bedroom just off the living room if I had a roommate. The apartment isn’t anywhere near huge, but it’s perfect for me—and it’s close enough to Central Park that I can take a walk there when I’m good and stuck in my work.
I’m not stuck now, sitting behind my laptop and cracking my knuckles. Mind over matter. It’s all about attitude. I’ll start with a sexy scene to get the juices flowing … so to speak.
Funny thing, but the notion of dirty sex is easier to manage so soon after talking with Matt. Maybe not so funny. Maybe I need to do more talking with him if the mere sight of his gorgeous face and body is enough to get me thinking along these lines.
He caressed the petals of her silky folds.
I type roughly half a page into the scene before he moves on top of her, sinking his …
“Oh no,” I groan, rolling my eyes at myself. Missionary again.
I must not have drunk enough.
I take the laptop to the kitchen and pour another shot. There’s gotta be a way to do this that’ll be better for my liver, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And I’m desperate.
By the time I take the fourth shot, I’m ready to go again. Only here’s the problem—well, two problems.
For one thing, I just drank four shots, and they’re starting to hit me.
For the other thing, missionary sex is just where my mind goes. Have I honestly only ever had sex in that one single position? I think back with a frown. Twenty-five years old, and I can only remember doing it that way—and once when we were both on our sides. So, two positions.
No, three! I hold up a fist in triumph.
There was that one time in college where he was behind me. Yeah, that’s something to be proud of.
What I don’t need is alcohol. What I need is research.
Short of having a guy handcuffed to my bed, there’s not much I can do besides ask the closest man in the vicinity. Which means taking one more shot for courage then darting across the hall before I can talk myself out of it.
My knock inspires a fresh round of frantic barking, and I cringe in preparation for a golden retriever attack. Except Phoebe doesn’t come charging when the door opens. In fact, her barking and scratching at the door are quickly replaced by a softer whining noise.
When the door opens, my jaw hits the floor. At least, that’s how it feels. Mr. Matt is now shirtless, a little out of breath, and just a bit sweaty, like he was in the middle of a workout. It takes real effort on my part not to think about the sort of workout I’d like to give him, especially when my eyes are naturally led down, down his defined chest and abs to the delicious, sharp V of muscle leading into his pants.
If he notices my ogling, he has the decency not to call me on it. “Sorry it took me a minute to answer.” He grins. “I had to put Phoebe in her kennel, so she wouldn’t jump on you. What’s up?”
What’s up? I can hardly remember why I came over here. “Uh … oh, right. What’s your favorite position?”
“My favorite …” he mutters with a frown. “Are we talking politics? Or sex?”
“Sex.” Please say missionary. Please prove me right.
“Hmm.” He’s trying to look serious, but it’s not working. “I’d have to show you.”
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